Lt. Gov. Dan Forest held a town hall meeting Tuesday night in Greensboro to discuss the “Convention of States” project. It's part a national movement that wants to use a different approach to amending the constitution. The idea is in response to what Conservatives are calling an overreach of the federal government.
Supporters of the "Convention of States Project" want to use a provision in the U.S. Constitution that hasn't been used before to call a new convention. That would give delegates from each state the authority to propose ideas to amend the document. Forest says this gives power back to the people.
“That is why you have such lower turnout because people say 'my vote doesn't matter' and that is because the power has shifted from the local communities and the state government and that is not how it was intended to be,” says Forest.
It takes two thirds of the states to request a convention. Right now, some of the amendments being discussed include term limits for members of Congress, and requiring Congress to balance the federal budget and limit spending.
But Michael Leachman with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says there's already a method in place to amend the constitution. It's the same way women got the right to vote and slavery was banned. He contends that a convention would be dangerous to democracy.
“Major and very powerful interest groups would get very involved there are no limits on spending to influence the votes of delegates to such a constitution,” says Leachman. “The kind of acrimony and partisan division that would erupt in such an environment would be unprecedented. I think and what might come out of the negotiations at the convention is unknown.”
Supporters of an Article V Convention of States have a long way to go. Thirty four states would need to apply to Congress to call for a convention. However, in recent months, similar resolutions have been introduced in more than a dozen states, including, Kentucky, Michigan, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Dan Forest says he will partner with other conservative leaders in North Carolina to hold more town hall meetings next year.